Friday, July 19, 2013

Flight & First Night in Israel!

July 19
8:08 a.m
Written by Emily Morgan

Adventure: Day Three
Days one and two bled together with the flight. It was long awaited and greatly appreciated after a ten hour delay at JFK. Anxiety and excitement had risen sharply on the quick flight to NY, seeing as it was a brief preface to the 12 hour flight ahead of us. It got really exhausting to be so excited for so long but it also made everything we did more fun. For example; going through customs was a blast! Getting drilled about our individual Jewish background was intense and pretty scary looking back, but while it was happening it felt like  a game of trivia! 
            Terminal 4 at JKF quickly became a second home for the group; we got comfy. Really comfy. After a group chow-down at Buffalo Wild Wings, it was only a short time until we had spread ourselves and our belongings all over Gate B 27. Being the spunky group of leaders that we are, it wasn’t hard for us to entertain ourselves. Whether it was playing a few intense rounds of cards or just following the flow of the moving sidewalks, we enjoyed our last sane hours. Luckily, we all kept track of everything and easily boarded the plane. I thought that was just as excited as anyone could ever get! I was terribly wrong.
            The flight itself was surprisingly enjoyable; the food wasn’t too bad, the seats were moderately comfortable, and the ride didn’t feel like it was longer than a good night’s sleep. The atmosphere of the plane was fascinating- everyone there was headed to Israel, but not one person looked or acted alike. We all shared this common interest; this belonging or calling to the Holy Land. Looking back; we were all in a pretty cool situation- our plane was full of Jewish people from all different denominations. Every few hours, many of the conservative or orthodox men would stand in the front or back of the isles and pray. It was so interesting to watch them and notice all the differences between myself and everyone else even though we practice the same religion. Without constant prayer the flight was pretty boring so it’s a good thing that The Incredibles was playing during the flight. We all needed that.
            Upon landing at Ben Gurion, the group’s excitement rose, as well as our level of exhaustion. The airport was enormous and beautiful. It was crazy to be conscious of my location… We were finally in Israel!
              Because of our 3 hour delay, we needed to speed through passport checks and baggage claim. Shorty after, we withdrew shkalim and met our wonderful tour guide, Arava and the JCs (and Andrew from our group). Heading straight towards Jaffa, the bus ride was a buzz with excitement and nerves. My eyes were practically glued to the window and my hands to my camera. A new thing we have been doing here is frequently asking each other, “Wait- where are we?” to which one would reply “ISRAEL” and both parties would scream and jump around.
            Jaffa is a beautiful city. The buildings are works of art and the atmosphere is incredible. Many were very nervous about the Blackout restaurant while it hadnt really occurred to me to be skeptical of a restaurant where I cant see what I’m eating. We chose our meals before we were lead into the dark and were put into groups for dining. I have never been in such a dark place. It was weird to close my eyes tightly and open them to see just the same thing. Once I got my meal, I was  ready to experience it truly. It was maybe the most delicious thing I had ever eaten. It was gnocchi with mushroom and cheese. I would have probably judged the meal by the way it looked if I had been able to see it. The food was so incredible that I had a dream about it last night. The dessert was just as good. It was nice to embarrass myself and have no one see how wildly I was enjoying my meal
            After the experience, we walked out to The Platform; an outdoor market. It felt really Israeli, I think. Everyone there looked like there were having  a great time. There was a live band that we all danced around a little to outside. My face still hurts from smiling so much last night.
            Next, we sat by the water to have our opening ceremony and write about our day. We went to Kfar Yarok, a youth village. It was really nice and so great to shower and get some real sleep.

I can’t wait to see what today brings us all! So far, it is undoubtedly the best trip of my life!

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